There are many valid reasons that an addict might seek a drug treatment without the 12 steps. First, there’s the whole higher power thing, which so many addicts find distasteful. The 12 step process can also seem weird, especially sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with strangers.
Now we don’t have time to go into them all, but trust me– there’s a hundred other legitimate reasons to be wary of the 12 step approach out there as well. And I’ve encountered them almost all of them, both in the meeting rooms and within my heart. And yet the 12 step approach has helped keep me sober for twelve years, and I was a hopeless mess.
Yep, I’m going to get a little personal this week, folks. I hope that’s okay, but I want every addict and alcoholic to have a chance at a meaningful recovery. And in order to contribute in my minuscule way, I want to tell you how I (sometimes) overcome my own objections and get what I need out of the 12 steps.
Now I couldn’t care less how anyone recovers, and there are zero parts of me that think the 12 steps are the only way to get and stay clean or sober. It’s just that I think they could help a lot more people than they do, if we can translate a bit.
For me, it’s all about keeping the 12 steps in perspective. There are a ton of people that swear by them, and I’m truly glad for these lovely folks. More power to them, but I just can’t. Notice what I said up above – that the 12 steps have helped keep me sober. And others things did too, lots of them. The steps, the higher power, telling people my business, all that – it’s just a part of how I stay sane today.
So the higher power thing – it’s weird. No doubt about it. I’m not a God person. I lack the capacity for it. But in a sense, I have a higher power, a few of them. It’s just that they’re all inside the world, right in front of me and totally visible. And they definitely exist, sort of.
Love exists, right? Or something close to it. So do hope, possibility, art, beauty, concern for others, participating. All of these things are much bigger and better than me, bigger than my drug addiction certainly. And these things have changed me into a better and kinder man. Just as importantly, they make me feel better.
And now about telling strangers my business. I don’t, at least not much. I play things close to the vest, especially in meetings. I save the intimate stuff for my sponsor and other people I’ve grown to trust and admire. At meetings I keep things general, except when I don’t. And I often regret it.
But I never, ever regret trying to help another suffering addict. Never. In fact, I love it. I can still be incredibly self centered and narrow minded at times, but helping others is the most beautiful part of my life today, hands down.
As for the ten million other problems I have with the 12 steps, I do some version of what I what I just described. I think you get the point. And if you decide to do the 12 step thing, you’ll figure out your own version. I just want to tell you it’s possible.
Just kidding. I don’t have a vision for you. I have no idea what you need to do. I just want you to be well. Myself, I did outpatient treatment and addiction therapy too. Maybe that will help you. Or maybe something else will. What do I know? I just hope you do whatever it takes to be happy, safe, and useful.
Just know that you can recover, and that it’s worth it. And I promise not to get all personal again, until I do. I’m a bit unreliable sometimes.